Game: Atlas Fútbol Club vs. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente
Date: Saturday, April 1st
Time: 6:00 PM Pacific, 8:00 PM Central, 9:00 PM Eastern
Venue: Estadio Jalisco (Guadalajara, Jal.)
Tijuana (5W 2D 3L) heads to Guadalajara to face off against Atlas (4W 2D 4L) this evening. Both Atlas and Xolos head into the match having won only two Liga MX matches each since the start of February. The long international break looks to have benefit both clubs, with only Rafa Marquez and Luis Reyes of Atlas and Michael Orozco and Paul Arriola of Xolos seeing any action.
Atlas’ strength is in their defense, with Mexican national team players Luis Reyes and the ageless Rafa Marquez anchoring the back line. At 38, Marquez still can play with the best of them and it will be interesting to see how he fares against both the physicality of Milton Caraglio and the speed and chicanery of Aviles Hurtado, especially since Daniel Arreola will miss the match due to having picked up a red card against Monterrey.
Atlas’ offensive options are fairly limited, although Luis Montes is always dangerous on the left wing. Atlas can mix it up at striker, usually opting to go with Matias Alustiza as the lone striker or playing a two striker set with Fidel Martinez and Martin Barragan.
Xolos will be forced to play the next five matches without manager Miguel Herrera, who received a three match ban for threatening a fan after a match against Santos and a two match ban for verbally abusing the referees of that same match. This also comes at a time where speculation is high that El Piojo could be leaving Tijuana for greener pastures elsewhere. With all of this swirling around the club, it would be easy for the club to lose focus however if Tijuana is going to remain in the playoff hunt they’ll have to be able to move past the distractions and play the kind of soccer they started the season playing.
Joe Corona will return from his red card suspension almost a month ago (!), and should help stabilize the midfield. He, Guido Rodriguez, and Aviles Hurtado have been the creative engine for Xolos, and they’ll need that engine to be performing at top capacity against the stingy Atlas defense